The Devoted Fanatic I
The dinner table at the Duke of Wenschlee’s estate was dominated by one woman’s voice.
“Ahh, my goodness, that Lilith!”
In front of the beautiful dishes piled high on immaculate silver finery, Maria smiled prettily as she listened to her Grandmother, the Duchess of Wenschlee, carry on.
“Even though her daughter has finally returned after two years abroad, Lilith still hasn’t come back from her tour of inspection with Prince Andy! Oh, I feel so sorry for poor Maria!”
Lady Wenschlee grumbled on and on as she angrily cut up her food.
“They should relax a little bit like a Prince and fiancée ought to, let someone else handle the inspections. Don’t you think so as well, Maria?”
Maria had a sweet smile on her face as she giggled, perfectly wearing the mask of the adorable and lovely granddaughter.
“But, because of that, I got to play at grandmother’s house.”
“Oh my, Maria…”
“As much as I’d love to see mother soon, I also greatly treasure the time I get to spend talking and eating delicious food with grandmother too.”
“That’s… That’s right, isn’t it? It’s just as Maria says.”
That grandmother of hers, who had been in a foul mood up until then, suddenly seemed to loosen up.
“Well, since you did come all this way, I’ll hold back from scolding that mother of yours.”
“Yes, it is actually my fault for coming back half a year earlier than planned. So please don’t blame mother so much, grandmother.”
“Well, Maria is an exquisite talent, after all, it’s only natural that you would graduate before anyone else. I wouldn’t expect anything less of my granddaughter.”
As her grandmother settled into a good mood, Maria continued to beam at her.
(Meek, cute, and innocent.)
Although this grandmother of hers was often angry and petulant, with a temperament to lash out at anyone close to her when she was in a bad mood, so long as Maria acted like this she was easy to handle.
(…Although, I never realized that back when it would have mattered much more.)
But, that was only natural.
(Because, if this woman ever saw me back then, she would have me beaten bloody with sticks.)
That was before her reincarnation.
The previous Maria would never have been allowed to eat in the same room as the Wenschlee family like this.
Her grandmother, who was the previous Maria’s stepmother, hated the two girls that were reminders of her husband’s infidelity. Maria and Nina were told in no uncertain terms that they should never appear before her.
At night, all they would be given was cold soup in some dark corner of the kitchen.
In a wealthy Ducal estate such as this, even the servants had their own dedicated dining room and were given hot food. But back then, having lost her parents, she counted her blessings just to have a roof over her head and any sort of food in her belly.
(At that time…)
At that time, there was only one maid who reached out a hand to help them.
A woman who was angry at how indifferent their father was and at the wanton cruelty of Lilith and the servants under her.
“What’s wrong, Maria? Do you not like the food?”
“…Oh no, grandmother. It’s very delicious.”
She responded with a bright smile, going back to moving the spoon in her fingers that had stopped as she thought back. Her grandmother seemed relieved with her words alone.
“If there is ever anything you need, just make sure to call on the head maid, Karina.”
“Yes, thank you very much, grandmother.”
“That being said, that man is certainly quite late today, isn’t he? I have been told that there were issues with that coachman’s work ethic lately but… You do have to be careful since types like that will simply quit their post with a single word of criticism. My goodness, why do we ever hire such ill-bred curs…”
As her grandmother went back to grumbling off a laundry list of complaints, Maria looked down at the table. Her mind once again running through her list of targets.
Karina Lawrence had been the Head Maid of the Duke of Wenschlee’s estate for ten years.
Although she was at the age where one would usually be a mother by now, she had abandoned her womanly happiness of marriage and children in order to devote herself fully to the Wenschlee family.
As such, the Wenschlee family had entrusted her with a lot of responsibilities, including all management of the housemaids and even decisions related to hiring and dismissing new maids were delegated to her.
Karina’s mornings were always busy. Since the other maids were all so young and unreliable, they no doubt needed Karina’s help to do even the most basic of tasks.
“Ann, you’re cleaning the front porch too slowly, sweep faster! Also, if you don’t change the water in all the vases today, the flowers will wither away by tomorrow!”
“The laundry still hasn’t been finished!? Misery! Take this pile of sheets, leave them out to dry for an hour!”
“You call these dishes clean!? I still see water spots, do it again!”
As Karina flew into a rage at them, the young maids eyes went wide with surprise. Satisfied with that look, Karina puffed out her chest in pride as if she had achieved some sort of triumph.
(Hmph, how’s that? Just with a cursory glance, I can always spot out the mistakes that the other maids overlooked.)
This was a result of the pride in her work she had cultivated after many years of loyal service.
In Karina’s eyes, this was the type of scene where the younger maids would look at her with eyes full of respect and admiration. But, the maids that she had gathered in the servants room looked gloomy as they stared at the floor, not even giving her a proper reply.
“Now then, what’s the matter? Get to your work, quickly now!”
“D-Deepest apologies, head maid. It’s just that we’re already exhausted…”
“We’ve been awake since before dawn and have been working without a break since. It’s almost lunchtime, but we haven’t even been able to have a single drink of water…”
“And so what!? Are you hoisting the blame for your poor performance on such a petty thing!?”
Karina glared at the girls, who she could only see as being lazy.
“The reason you aren’t able to take a break is that your work is far too sloppy and slow. When I was in the position of you girls, I would actually skip my breaks just so I could get more work done. I took responsibility for my own shortcomings, and if I did anything wrong I sincerely apologized to the head maid at the time. ‘I don’t need a break, please let me do this work until I get it right.’ I would say…!”
That was what she considered a splendid work ethic.
Of course, she still thought that way. If she wasn’t currently the head maid, she would do all the work these girls were slacking off on herself.
But, Karina was well aware of the way things ought to be.
She would be doing a disservice to these young girl’s future if she didn’t let them have a taste of hard work now. If she let them slack off, they wouldn’t grow as human beings.
Then, one of the young maids opened her mouth.
“What’s with that…”
One of the girls who had hung her head in dejection lifted it, glaring at Karina.
“The reason we don’t get any breaks is that all the other maids left because of you isn’t it!? Whenever you don’t like someone, you force them to do an impossible amount of work, then you drag them to the Madame once they can’t do it! After being beaten and scolded, you can fire them as you please…”
“…What did you just say?”
At that rude girl’s remarks, Karina spat spittle as she raged.
“How dare you go against the head maid!? Do you think that you’ve ever worked hard enough a day in your life to have the gall to speak back to me!? You should all be happy you’re getting paid at all with your performances! But oh no, not one of you has even a speck of humility, you wage thieves!”
“We are working hard! We know that being a maid isn’t easy, so we are ready to work hard all day at times! But, to not even let us take breaks to use the bathroom or to drink water!? It’s unfair!”
“Hey, Ann, you’re going too far…!”
“I am not! Hey maid chief, don’t you think it’s strange!? Even though there are less maids now, you’re suddenly expecting us to do all the work of the girls you dismissed!? Isn’t that actually just because of the head maid’s lack of ability, since she can’t even properly organize and delegate to her employees at all!?”
“Haaa!? What are you…!?”
To be lacking in one’s own work is one thing, but to blame others for their own laziness?
Kanaria couldn’t believe this girl. She felt sorry for the Wenschlee family, having to employ such a wretched maid. She felt like she had been deceived since this girl had come with a good recommendation from the last family estate she worked at.
“I have no need for a useless maid such as you! You should pack your things and…!”
It was a calm and gentle voice, yet it carried a dignified and resounding air.
Karina turned around to look behind her in a hurry. There stood a girl with honey coloured hair and a beautiful, doll-like face that was just like her mother’s… Princess Maria.
Sorry for being a little irregular with this, but keep in mind the raw is INCREDIBLY slow to release, so it might be best if I’m slow to catch up as well.